This development calls for a reassessment of existing theory on liveness.My main question is therefore twofold: what does the stemfie, by embodying immediacy and affinity, show us about how liveness is nowadays enacted in mediated practice?Reporting in media events, she says, tends to emphasise our privilege of being there while history unfolds; in a highly self-conscious way media texts articulate past, present and future in their construction of liveness.
Secondly, I will argue that liveness is best regarded as a construction of user, content and technology.
Subsequently, I will return to the stemfie to explore a contemporary enactment of liveness from the positions of media user, media content and media technology.
In their seminal work on media events, Dayan and Katz take an anthropological approach, explaining how media events work to articulate belongingness – affinity – and connect large audiences in a longing for a shared centre.
They concentrate on pre-planned live broadcasts of ceremonial events that offer the audience a participatory role in witnessing.
Esther Hammelburg 19 March 2014 saw the breakthrough of a new kind of media text in The Netherlands: the stemfie.
Being a portmanteau of the Dutch verb ‘stemmen’ (to vote) and ‘selfie’, the stemfie is a photo taken of oneself while (or just after) casting a vote, which is then shared through online social networks.
With social media taking such a prominent place within our current media landscape, the ways in which we participate in events through media nowadays differ greatly from twenty years ago, as the stemfie aptly demonstrates.
Using multiple devices and platforms, users construct and navigate through stories, co-creating todays’ media events.
I will refer to this as the ‘immediacy’ aspect of liveness.
Strongly tied to this first aspect is the second: liveness means being connected through time and space, from our private spaces, with exactly those people and events that are important to us, making meaningful and intimate connections, and providing possibilities for involvement and participation. These two aspects, immediacy and affinity, appear to be essential throughout academic conceptualisations of liveness.
This example relates both the aspect of immediacy – witnessing something as it happens – and of affinity – the connection to events that matter in our history.